MAN — The Man Football Hillbilly Nation is partying like it’s 2009.
For those of you that may not know, the Billies are back.
Last week’s 46-8 win at home over Class AA No. 7-ranked River View was the latest building block in the resurgence of the Man football program — a team that has endured three straight losing grid campaigns after going 12-2 in 2009 and playing in the Class A state championship game at the Wheeling Super Six.
With three straight wins — all over Class AA teams — the Man football team is 3-1 heading into this week’s bye week.
After falling 40-20 in the season opener at home to Class AAA county rival Logan, the Billies have reeled off wins over Mount View (44-0), Westside (22-14) and now River View ahead of Man’s next scheduled contest — Oct. 4 at Fayetteville.
The Billies, ranked No. 12 in the state in last week’s Class A ratings, are feeling pretty good but Man coach Harvey Arms knows there’s a lot of work left to be done before Man can punch their ticket to the Class A state playoffs.
Still, the Billies have to be pleased with the 3-1 start.
With the top-heavy schedule now over, Man can shift focus to the rest of the season.
Fayetteville, Man’s next opponent, is 2-2 after losing 26-14 at Meadow Bridge on Friday night. The Pirates have won over Midland Trail (52-6) and Richwood (61-0) and have also lost to Wahama (60-26).
If Man can beat Fayetteville, the next game — a Oct. 11 homecoming showdown with Class AA county rival Chapmanville looms large.
The Tigers (3-1) are on a role themselves and have recorded three straight comeback wins in as many weeks. Last Friday night, Chapmanville rallied from a 16-0 hole to beat the Poca Dots 34-31 on the road.
After the Chapmanville clash, Man then has four perceived beatable Class A foes to close out the season as Man goes to Sherman on Oct. 18, hosts Pocahontas County on Oct. 25, travels to Tug Valley on Nov. 1 and then finishes out with a Nov. 8 home game with the Van Bulldogs.
Sherman, just 1-9 last year, is currently 2-2 after winning 56-12 over Hannan last week. The Tide lost 20-6 at Tug Valley in the opener.
Pocahontas County is 1-3 after last week’s 18-7 loss at East Hardy.
Tug Valley, which beat a young Man team last season, has struggled this fall as the Panthers are 2-2. Tug Valley was blown out 50-6 at Haysi (Va.) last week. The Panthers barely squeaked by Mount View (18-12) in Week 3, a team the Billies beat by six touchdowns.
Van, coming off a 2-7 season in 2012, is currently 1-2. The Bulldogs lost 40-20 at Valley Fayette last Friday night.
The Billies seem to control their own destiny.
Last week’s blowout over River View seemed to be a surprise.
Many expected a tight game.
Coach Arms said after the game he was pleased with the win and with his team’s progression.
“It was a great game,” Arms said. “The kids played well just like last week on all phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams. We dominated up front. Our backs ran hard. John Thomas (Keffer) threw the ball well. The defense played great.”
Man’s offensive line paved the way — led by Jeremiah Beavers, Thomas Holt, Dakota Toth, Joey Buchannan, Christain McCoy and tight end Gage Harvey — as the Billies scored 32 unanswered points in the first half to take a commanding 32-0 lead into the locker room.
Man racked up 306 total yards on offense, with 220 on the ground and 86 through the air.
Running back Braden Griffin had 109 yards rushing on 15 carries and two TDs. QB John Thomas Keffer was 6-for-12 passing for 86 yards and one interception.
Man dominated the game in the first down battle 18-7 and held the Raiders to only 127 yards of total offense — including 74 yards on the ground and 56 in the air.
Noah Maynard and McCoy led the Man defense with seven tackles each. Tracy Jones had six stops and one interception. McCoy and Beavers had one sack each for the Billies.